$0.99 or $2.99: That Is the Question

$0.99 or $2.99? That Is the Question.

It’s true. I got caught up in all the hype of $0.99 or $2.99. What’s a gal to do? I started my book at the $0.99 level… stayed there for all of 3 days. For the most part, I earned 2-3 sales a day. I was happy with that. People wanted my books. I wasn’t happy with the pricing model of 35%, which earned me $0.35 per book. Yikes!

What’s My Work Worth?

Do I think my works are worth more than $0.99? or $0.35 for that matter? Hell yah. It’s an awesome read (author bias going here). Plus it’s 91k words of blood, sweat, and tears. Okay, the characters did more of that than me… but still. It’s a full length novel. I’ve seen novellas priced at $2.99 and higher. Didn’t my baby deserve at least that?

So, I bumped up my price to $2.99. I earned 1-2 sales the first day. After that, nada. NOTHING! OMG. I’d even put up ad campaigns. Doubts pricked at me. Perhaps they read the sample and thought it was trash. No reviews, no sales to keep up my kindle ranking, no profit. Wah me!

Here’s the thing. Despite my stats at Smashwords showing people weren’t even picking up the sample, I believed my words crap, and no one would buy it. Instead, I should have seen that as a sign of too rich for my blood. People were thinking $2.99 was too much to even bother with the sample of a debut self-published author. At least that’s what I got out of it after I thought it through.

I ran to my husband, as I often do and lamented about my fears of failure. Failure! You’re panicking. Give it some time, Reena. I’m the anxious type sure, but I’ve seen the results other debut authors have had. And many of their works are priced at $0.99. I guess if I wanted to be fussy about the length, I should have produced a 20k novella first for the world. I didn’t. That’s my bad, but I’m not letting my work go down the drains because I didn’t make a smart first decision.

Kait Nolan said in a blog post “When you’re starting out, you cannot let it become a money game.” That’s exactly what I’d done—turned it into a game.

I did some fancy calculating. Let’s say I stuck with $0.99 and continued to receive 2+ sales a day. At a royalty rate of 35%, 2 * $0.35 = $0.70 a day * 30 days = $21.00. Not the greatest, that’s for sure. On the other hand, I had the 70% royalty which came to be about $2.05 after all the nickel and diming and computed to 0 * $2.05 = $0.00 a day. Hmmm? Let’s be generous with myself and say I earned 2 sales a week at that rate. Not saying that was happening, but it could have. So we have 2 * $2.05 = $4.10 a week * 4 = $16.40.

Look folks. I’m unknown. A no named nudnik. Okay, maybe not nudnik, but certainly nameless to most. It doesn’t matter if I’ve written the next great or not. There’s absolutely no reason for someone other than friends and family to purchase my book… or to look me up for that matter. Many authors who stress $2.99 have already established a fan base. That works for them. One day it might work for me, just not today.

Writing erotica already cuts out a large portion of the reading audience. I don’t want to dismiss the rest of my potential audience by pricing my untested work in a range where folks say, thanks, but no thanks. My works are in a situation where supply and demand affects price. I’ve got the supply but with no fan base, little demand. If starting at $0.99 is going to get my name out there, you better believe I’m taking advantage of the opportunity.

That was then. This is now.

I originally wrote that post February 2012. I’m not a writer who is making a living selling my works. In fact, since I’ve disappeared for about half a year, my sales have dwindled from a few hundred a month to a couple of handfuls a month. My prices range from $0.99 to $4.95 plus 1 free work. And since I haven’t been real active these days, those prices have been the same for months… probably a year or more.

Looking back, do I think my prices have anything to do with my sales? Not so much these days. And here’s the reason why. I believe effectively promoting works has more to do with prices than anything. Judging by my sales numbers, I’m not the best at promoting. I’ll be outright with that.

So why do I say effective promoting is the key? Well, because I’ve read some diamonds out there which aren’t doing any better than my works. On the other hand, I’ve also come across some garbage which is doing pretty well. Excuse me… I don’t want to talk bad about the works of other writers, but we know crap is out there bringing in the dough. And we wonder, what the heck is going on? 🙂

Is it price? I think not. Because one of those crappy books will sell great at $9.99 when an awesome book might struggle to get off the shelf at $0.99.

Now don’t get me wrong, writing a good book does help. However, what it comes down to is one of two things:

  • Getting your book in front of the right people who will help spread the word for you.
  • Creating a promotional network which puts your book in front of enough buying individuals who’ll boost your book to visible levels on the chart.

Now don’t ask me how to accomplish either of those two items. If I knew how, my books would be at the top and selling great. 🙂

One thing I will say is this: What works for one author doesn’t work for every author. Add that to the fact that methods become outdated.

A couple of years ago, a writer could offer a work for free and watch the rest of their books climb to the top of the charts. When the free book went from free to paid, they’d also see a significant boost in sales. These days, free books flood the market. They’re not unique, so it takes a lot more than a free book to attract an audience.

So… research, experiment, and good luck!

0 thoughts on “$0.99 or $2.99: That Is the Question

  1. Thanks Reena that is really interesting. It’s always good to have others’ experience. You are very entrepreneurial and I admire that a lot – it’s not something that comes easily to me. Hope you keep on selling selling selling…thanks again.

  2. You wouldn’t want to be in it for the money that’s for sure. So little for so much work. It must be love!!

  3. Steve ~ It is nice reading the experience of others. When I had more time on my hand, I spent quite a few hours in a day surfing websites and trying to learn from the success and failure of others. Hopefully, I’ll find to do it again. 🙂

    Mary ~ I don’t know. I think most writers write because they enjoy creating stories and putting it down in physical form. Writing is an endeavor of love for many. However, publishing is a different story. It’s work, and it takes time away from writing. In most cases, it also costs money to accomplish (the idea, you have to spend money to make money). I don’t think authors would complain about how little they make or search so diligently to increase the money they make from publishing if they published out of love. Even those writers who live and breath words, I think most dream of making a decent income for their efforts.

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